This week saw the end of the first Blogstakes contest, the one for Clip-N-Seal. Soon I’ll set up a script that lets Clip-N-Seal randomly pick their winners and notify everyone who participated in the contest if they asked to be notified.
Then I’ll delete all of your email addresses.
It was no surprise that blog marketing is powerful in short bursts. That’s the nature of blogs. Links to a hot new site spread like crazy through the blogosphere and two days later (as blog entries falls off of the main screens and onto the rarely-visited archive pages) traffic dropped to half. Then half again the next day, but it never died completely. Blogstakes settled on a couple of hundred visitors a day — partly because of the speed at which it made its way into Yahoo and Google and partly because of the dozens of sites that added Blogstakes links to a fixed location on their blog like a BlogRolling list or a BlogShares link.
Before launching Blogstakes, I had to solve issues like how to start a contest that requires inbound links to run. If you visit a contest and a requirement for entry is that you’re visiting from a blog and no blogs have linked to my contests, then how can you enter? I created an engine that analyzed new visitors to determine whether they were coming from: a known blog; an unknown blog; a site that sends visitors, but isn’t allowed to co-register as a winning blog (like Yahoo or a contest sponsor); or no detectible blog at all. The “no detectible blog” visitors were people who either typed the URL into their browser (so they came to Blogstakes from no other site) or they were using security software that hides “referer strings” and negates my ability to detect their blog of origin.
My original plan for visitors who didn’t come from a valid referring blog was to have them click a “randomizer” link and send them to one of the blogs that had already referred someone to Blogstakes. Then they could explore that blog, find the link back to Blogstakes and enter the contest. But some people had problems with the random link taking them to the same site every time they clicked it. So I made it a list of ten referring sites. Then I ran into a new problem: I was sending people to a site that had sent people to Blogstakes a couple of days ago, but no longer had a link to Blogstakes on their home page. So I created a system of link aliases that allow me to send people to the archived entries that have Blogstakes links — eliminating lots of frustration.
Blogstakes is just getting started. I have more features in the pipeline and some great contests coming up. Just between you and me, I knew that I wouldn’t have enough time to get new contests running (since I’m hard at work developing a massive Web publishing system and Blogstakes is just a fun diversion for me), so I set the first two contest deadlines far enough in the future for me to prepare the next batch of contests. Upcoming contests will run for less than the four to six weeks of my original two contests.